Interstitial cystitis or bladder pain syndrome is a common condition most frequently found in women and it leaves them with more questions than answers. According to some research, it affects up to 6.5% of females although, many of those cases go undiagnosed.
Since it is a multi-factorial condition, Interstitial cystitis cannot be treated without addressing multiple contributing factors. There is no single drug or herb that can cure Interstitial cystitis, but the healthier a person is, the more likely it can go into remission.
How To Treat Interstitial Cystitis
Alkaline Diet for Interstitial Cystitis
One of the primary irritants to the bladder is toxins passing through in the urine. If you have a cut on your arm and you put an acidic lemon on it, it is going to hurt pretty badly. Likewise, if the bladder wall is irritated and inflamed, acidic urine will make the bladder painful. An alkaline-based diet provides temporary relief while more root level causes are searched for and then addressed. Sometimes urine can be extra acidic due to a functional potassium deficiency, so potassium supplementation should be considered.
When I mention that a non-acidic diet is temporary, it does not mean it shouldn’t be used. It can be your only saving grace as you work with a practitioner to look for underlying metabolic problems.
Drugs – What Can They Teach Us?
The nice thing about conventional medicine and drugs is that they show us how to mask a symptom. Then, if we take that symptom and dig deeper, we can often get the same or better results by finding the problem and using natural methods.
Heparin & Elmiron – Blood Thinners
Heparin is a blood-thinning and anti-inflammatory drug that seems to affect the mucous lining in Interstitial Cystitis. It does this by temporarily “repairing” the GAG layer because it binds sulfur molecules. The glucosaminoglycan layer (GAG) is the protective layer of the bladder. Elmiron aka pentosan polysulfate sodium also acts in the same manner because it contains 4 sulfur molecules that can bind in the bladder GAG layer and protect the bladder from irritation. In a healthy body, the GAG layer can be repaired and replenished appropriately, but, if there is not enough sulfur, glucuronic acid or proper sugar metabolism then the layer cannot heal itself.
Many times a patient lacks adequate sulfur due to the liver using all of it for other detoxification processes. Sulfation is a process the liver uses to detoxify drugs, food additives and especially toxins from intestinal bacteria and the environment. The most common supplement I recommend specifically for sulfur is cysteine sulfate, but finding out why the body is running out of sulfur is where the root cause lies. Studies have shown that in unresponsive cases of IC/PBS, supplementation with glucosamine-sulfate and chondroitin-sulfate can help. Once again the supplement may help as you search for why your GAG layer in your bladder was damaged in the first place and is in need of repair.
Glucuronic acid is often needed in women that have excess estrogen. Glucuronidation in the liver helps detoxify aspirin, menthol, vanillin, food additives and some hormones like estrogen. It is especially common to be deficient if you have been on birth control for an extended period of time. I use glucuronic acid from Metabolics as most other sources of glucuronic acid do not appear to be as effective. Eliminating xenoestrogens, plastics and balancing hormones get to the root of glucuronic acid metabolism needed for GAG health.
Proper sugar metabolism is also critical for GAG synthesis. GAG synthesis takes more time and is of less immediate importance than regulation of your blood sugar. So when your body needs sugar because it keeps going high and low, then the body can’t use it to repair tissue and joints with GAGs. The body always prioritizes immediate needs and that is why chronic problems like interstitial cystitis develop. A diet with more complex carbohydrates as well as good fats and protein sources to maintain stable blood sugar is the key to allowing GAG have enough glucose molecules.
In 1993, Dr. Fugazzatto, MD, found two main bacteria in Interstitial Cystitis patients. The two bacteria were enterococcus and micrococcus. He found specifically that gram positive bacteria were associated. Most traditional antibiotics treat gram negative bacteria. His research reported that the combination of antibiotics combined with other therapies provided 90-95% improvement. He mentioned that he frequently used Nystatin which is an anti-fungal drug. The fact that he used an anti-fungal medication is also important to know as chronic Candida infections could also be correlated with Interstitial Cystitis.
Fast forward 15 years, from 1993, and many of the gram-positive bacteria are now antibiotic resistant. (MRSA is gram positive) If you frequently had UTIs and have used antibiotics, then you likely have some form of resistance. Antibiotic resistant UTIs are very common and lead to recurrent UTIs. UTIs and Bladder Pain Syndrome or Interstitial Cystitis are commonly associated.
In my practice, I have found that even patients with antibiotic resistance respond well to natural antimicrobials. My three most common and most powerful antimicrobials are Melia Supreme, Golden Thread Supreme and Morinda Supreme from Supreme Nutrition.
Mast cells play an important role in protecting against pathogens and in-wound healing. Thus, they are located in the linings of the stomach, intestines, bladder and in the skin. Mast cells gather around wounds to help healing. Mast cells contain things such as heparin, histamine and prostaglandins. The latter two are inflammatory and heparin is mildly anti-inflammatory. One more reason heparin and Elmiron are commonly prescribed has to do with the fact that once you have enough heparin in the system, the mast cells decrease their release of heparin and histamine as to not make the blood too thin. (Heparin and histamine are bound together in the mast cell.)
Traditionally, mast cells are most activated by allergic reactions, specifically the IgE food type reactions that can make you go into anaphylactic shock. But an immune system that is out of balance and geared more towards allergic reactions or Th2 dominance. People with lots of allergies and that react to common, everyday type things are most likely to have an underlying imbalance in the immune system. Things like leaky gut, toxic substances, heavy metals or residual effects from vaccination lead someone to have a Th2 dominant state. Addressing these underlying irritants to the immune system will help to calm down the overreaction of mast cells in the mucous membranes of the bladder. Quercetin, Rutin and Luteolin are well-known mast cell stabilizer that can help an out of balance immune system get back to balance.
Autoimmune disorders are becoming more and more prevalent. I have written on autoimmune prevalence here and recorded an amazing guest podcast found here. With regards to IC we don’t have a specific autoimmune explanation or antibody test, but we know that is more common in those with IC. The pieces of mast cell excess, Th2 dominance and autoimmunity can all be treated in a similar fashion and are all linked together.
FL1953 Protomyxzoa Rheumatica – A Myth?
PR for short is still lacking some credibility as there has not been any peer-reviewed journal publications. That being said, the long story short is that Dr. Fry reports that by using a new staining technique he was able to identify a unique organism that is common in IC. Just like with Lyme disease, we are limited right now in testing organisms. Dr. Fry reports the organism to appear much like malaria and/or bartonella, which are both difficult organisms to eradicate because they like to abide inside the red blood cell.
Biofilms are common in the bladder and the urinary tract. Chronic UTIs in females are becoming more and more common it seems and biofilms contribute to this. I have found that, biofilms are best treated using BFB-1 or BFB-2 in combination with an antimicrobial in the capsule form such as Melia, Morinda or Golden Thread.
In addition to the GAG layer, the mucous membrane in the bladder is similar to the mucous membrane in other areas of the body. Interstitial cells can be found throughout the body. The stimulation of protective mucous occurs when the body is in a relaxed state and when you are sleeping. Excess stress and poor sleeping patterns can decrease that amount of mucous available for lining the tissues. Glucosamine is an important part of the mucous membrane, so it is important for the mucous and the GAG layer. Additional nutrients that support the mucous membrane include Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin C (Camu Supreme), Vitamin E and other bioflavonoids.